Faced with the multitude of kitchen sinks and taps on the market, we wanted to offer some general advice on what to look for, based on our experience of kitchen design over the past 14 years.
Swan Neck Kitchen Taps
High spouted swan neck mixer taps are useful for filling kettles and pans easily and these are what we usually specify. You can slide a bucket underneath, so they are very practical. Having the mixer on a swivel is also convenient and we find it easy to operate the tap in the image below, even with messy hands. One of our clients with arthritis was delighted that we found a stylish tap for her that was so simple to use. The model below retains a separate hot and cold valve.
A brushed steel finish gives a smart contemporary look, but there are many other finishes available, now including black. Frankly, we’ve done a lot of research into kitchen taps, and find this style unbeatable; we don’t look much further these days.
Flexible Kitchen Taps
Flexible kitchen taps are popular with cooking enthusiasts and have a detachable nozzle that you can move around to wash vegetables and spray into the corners of the sink. The model above has two spray settings, operated by the black button visible on the nozzle. The inner tube provides the tap’s flexibility, with the surrounding coil providing support – you will wish to be sure that you can clean this design feature easily. With the nozzle in its housing, the tap reverts to a swan neck type described earlier, but this one has a single mixer tap on the side.
Boiling taps are trendy, but you need to understand their installation and maintenance requirements. Check their water storage capacity in the cupboard beneath (you may find that you lose much of that space) and also the cost of maintenance, particularly in hard water areas where you need to change filters on a regular basis. Then there is the cost of storing water at the right temperature. Think carefully before falling in love with the idea.
Filtered Water Taps
Some people choose to fit a dedicated drinking water tap; others are happy just to drink from the main tap! If you have a water softener fitted, make sure that the drinking water tap remains unsoftened.
Choose the largest bowl-and-a-half sink that will fit your kitchen. The catalogue specification will tell you the size of the base cabinet required. It is always useful to have a separate half-bowl for rinsing and pouring; you can leave washed out bottles to drain upside down in here whilst continuing to use the full bowl for washing. They are very practical. Check which side you want the half bowl as they do come left and right handed.
Undermount sinks look very stylish. They give a high-end kitchen a sleek look. If you are looking for kitchen sinks and taps as a set, you might consider that a brushed steel tap complements a brushed steel sink.
Undermount sinks are fitted beneath a solid worktop (preferably a stone-type worktop – we’ll talk about wood later). The cut faces of cheaper laminate worktops would absorb water and swell so would not be suitable. Your supplier will cut drainage grooves in the surface of a stone worktop so be ready to say which way they should run (to the left or to the right) as you transfer items from the sink to the drainer.
Although wood is a solid surface, we would not recommend having a wooden worktop around a sink. They look great in photos when brand new, but you do need to keep them oiled, and most people don’t do this. The wood becomes badly stained and split. You can have a wooden surface away from the sink if need be, as in the breakfast bar below, but avoid fitting wood anywhere that regularly gets wet.
For an undermount sink with more than one bowl, the contractor templates the worktop to expose part of the top surface of the sink as below. The silicone sealant would be visible from above and, whilst anti-fungal, may discolour over time. If this happens, you should cut away and replace the silicone. For a single bowl, as in the square model above, the fitter would template the worktop so that it fits just over the edge of the sink; here the sealant is beneath the surface and so not visible from above.
Belfast sinks look fine in a traditional property, and also in some contemporary schemes. For fitted kitchens suppliers make a dedicated base unit for a Belfast sink but usually only in one size, whereas Belfast sinks come in a range of sizes. So check what combination will work before committing.
Moulded Acrylic Sinks
For an ultra-modern look, fabricators can mould an acrylic kitchen a sink as a “single piece” with its worktop, as in the island sink below. Manufacturers confirm that the solid acrylic is mould and stain resistant. There are certainly no obvious joins to seal or worry about. Acrylic does scratch, so carry out a test with a fingernail to make sure you are happy with it. Scratches can be dressed out, but you might want a specialist to do this for you after a period of use; or you might just live with it.
Stainless Steel Surface Sinks
For a cheaper alternative, you could choose a pressed stainless steel sink for your laminate worktop. Left or right handed, you will need to decide which side your drainer will sit. They also come in a range of configurations: single bowl; bowl and a half; twin bowl and so on. Often you’ll find kitchen sinks and taps come as a set for these cheaper items.
Some clients fit macerators to dispose of food waste easily. They sit below the sink in the base unit, and activate automatically when you push waste down the plug hole. Again, check the space they take up in the cabinet below before deciding that this is right for you. Technical documents on line show how to fit them and the space they require.
kitchen sinks and taps
We hope you’ve found this page useful reviewing different types of kitchen sinks and taps. From our 14 years of designing and installing kitchens we’ve found great diversity, particularly in the needs of our client. They have differing views on their preferred kitchen sinks and taps, although most of them love the swan neck designs.
Choosing kitchen sinks and taps is an important part of any kitchen design. You may be interested in some of our other kitchen advice columns and may care to read our guide to kitchen renovations.
Style Within designs and installs complete kitchens from concept through to delivery. This includes any building work; we manage everything for you. If we can help with your kitchen refurbishment in Bath or Bristol, please consider our kitchen design service.
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